2021 will be an opportunity to leverage the hard lessons of the past year and work in solidarity to accelerate the much-needed progress to achieve our shared goals.

The year that ushered in the final Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) started with the world already acutely aware of being off track to achieve them by the 2030 deadline. Then came COVID-19.

The pandemic is not only a health crisis, but also a socioeconomic crisis, an inequality crisis, an education crisis, a gender crisis. Not only did it knock us further off course for the Goals, but it revealed and exacerbated underlying inequities that show we were already leaving way too many behind. Now, as a result a billion students are out of class, domestic violence against women is up by 30% in some places, and at least 71 million people could fall into poverty. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, achieving Goal 1 – eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 – is now an even more monumental task.

But the crisis also spurred global cooperation in unprecedented, innovative ways with new partnerships and new leadership and new voices that we can build upon and include in our agenda as we embark on a new year.

So, as we look to 2021, we cannot talk about reaching solutions without even greater solidarity and cooperation at all levels of society — national governments and leaders, the private sector and civil society, and not least, young people who are already leading the way in demanding action on some of our most urgent shared problems. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the world’s ability to come together quickly and innovatively to address shared challenges. That’s going to be increasingly important.

Read the full article about progress on the SDGs amid COVID-19 by Thure Krarup and Donna Borak at United Nations Foundation.